Australian singer-songwriter Josh Pyke is known for his quirky and intelligent lyrics and songwriting. This April, he’ll make his orchestral debut as part of an initiative by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to support new Australian music.

“I’ve wanted to hear my music with this type of treatment for a long time, and the SSO is the best of the best, so I’m very honoured it will be playing my songs,” says Pyke, “It’s literally a dream come true for me.”

The initiative has 10 emerging composers from around Australia reworking Pyke’s music, each given free reign to work with one of his songs. He is even allowing them to change structures and time signatures for the debut. After handing his songs over for other artists to interpret, Pyke will then perform them over two concerts at the Sydney Opera House.

Middle Of The Hill, Lighthouse, Goldmine, Fill You In, and Order Has Abandoned Us are some of the songs the composers have been working on for the past three months for the orchestra.

“What we wanted to do was find a program that would help launch early professional composers and give them the chance to have their music heard on the main stage,” says Kim Waldock, the SSO director of learning and engagement. “By working on arranging existing songs, these composers can work in a structured framework. Which is much less daunting than composing an entire work from scratch. And because these guys have got really interesting ideas, and because Josh is such an open-minded and generous musician, he’s really happy to let them explore the potential within his songs.”

“We could have contracted a professional arranger to do it, or we could give some people a chance to get their music heard. They’re writing with an edgy, contemporary voice. It’ll make for a really interesting and a rich, diverse concert.”

Philip Jameson from NSW is one of the composers currently arranging Still Some Big Deal. “Josh has been extremely welcoming; he really gave us permission to do anything with his songs which is an extraordinary gift. His trust in us has been fantastic,” he says.

Also in the middle of recording his new album, Pyke is hugely excited, and understandably a little daunted, by performing the new interpretations of his well-known tunes in the Concert Hall.

But, he says, “I believe songs are there to be experimented with, and that any version is just that, a version amongst many.

“My recorded versions of the songs are only moments in time, and I’m hoping the emerging composers will bring their own moments to [them].”

Josh Pyke Live with the SSO
Sydney Opera House, Concert Hall

Wednesday April 29, 8pm
Thursday April 30, 6.30pm